The best poker skills and strategy in the world won’t get you far unless you can make deposits and handle withdrawals from online poker rooms. Canadian players now have a range of options for moving money, the most popular being credit cards, prepaid cards, PayPal, and Interac.
This page covers the details of using these poker deposit methods. Below, you will find out how to pay securely, what to look for to make sure the poker site is legitimate, and how to get your money safely back to your Canadian bank account. You will also find links to guides that go into detail on each of the individual poker deposit options.
Banking options for online poker players
Funding your poker account in Canada is easy, though the list of options is smaller than in many other countries. Many of the big banks try to restrict payments to gambling sites by declining the payments. Fortunately, there are simple ways to get around these restrictions.
Some people prefer to use third party payment options, rather than funding their poker account directly from a bank.
Here are the five most popular ways to deposit at poker sites in Canada:
- PayPal: This is the most popular electronic wallet. It works as a secure third party agent. You fund your PayPal wallet, then use this to make online payments. Many people believe that the added convenience and security are worth the small fees incurred by this service.
- Interac: This popular secure payment gateway works with most Canadian banks. You can deposit into your poker site account in the same way you make any online payment. For secure payments, Interac is hard to beat.
- Online banking: Sending a payment directly from your bank can be done via an eCheque (electronic cheque) or using a third party gateway such as InstaDebit. This is a popular way to withdraw your winnings safely back to your bank account.
- Credit cards: For convenience and speed, your regular credit card can’t be beaten. Almost all poker rooms will welcome Visa and MasterCard branded cards. Amex, Diners Club, and Discover networks are used at specific sites.
- Prepaid cards: You can use gift card-style credit cards to make deposits. These have the benefit of separating your poker banking from your regular finances. You will need to understand which cards work for each site and pay a small fee to buy them.
How to securely deposit at online poker sites
You can access online poker via desktop software, apps for iPhones and Android mobile devices, or via your web browser. Each site will have its own software, though the deposit process will follow the same broad steps.
Before you can make an online poker deposit, you need to register your account. You have to be of legal age to gamble in your province and supply accurate personal information. This comes into play when you withdraw and backup/ID documentation is requested.
Many poker rooms offer no deposit bonuses. They give you a chance to check out the games and software before you part with your money.
Next, you head to the cashier area. No poker site will make this difficult to locate. You will see a list of the options — most poker sites will show only those available for your location.
After selecting your preferred method, you choose how much to deposit. Minimum deposits depend on what method you choose. With PayPal or cards, $10 is typical; for bank wires, the sites will require bigger deposits to cover their increased costs. You will have the opportunity to add a bonus code at this point (not every site uses them).
What happens next depends on your deposit method. For card payments, you enter the main number, expiry date, and CVV security number in the same way you would make any online purchase. PayPal or other gateway payments will open a secure window, where you can log in and authorize the payment.
You will then return to the poker room to see your balance has arrived, and you are ready to hit the tables.
If your bank or card issuer declines your payment, there is no need to worry. No funds are taken from you when this happens — the deposit simply does not go through. Your best bet here is to open a live chat window or call the support team at your site to find another deposit option that works for you.
How to withdraw money from poker sites
With sharp poker skills and a little luck, it will not be long before you face the next step for poker site banking — getting your profits back out.
Poker sites require you to withdraw using the same method you deposited with, wherever this is possible. This is a simple precaution against money laundering and helps keep the business clean for both the players and site operators. You may also be asked for ID documents when you make your first online poker withdrawal.
To initiate a cash out, head back to the cashier area at your poker app/site. Your withdrawal options are geo-targeted. After entering the amount to withdraw, and initiating the request, two things happen:
- You get a message that any bonuses you are currently clearing will be removed when you OK your withdrawal.
- After that, you get a message and an email that your withdrawal is being processed.
Depending on the method you chose to withdraw, you will now need to wait for the staff at your poker room to approve it. They will check for suspicious play (chip dumping) and ensure your ‘know your customer’ (KYC) documents are in place. The fastest withdrawals are same-day, though for some methods (bank wires, cheques) you could be waiting up to five days for processing.
If you cannot withdraw to the same method that you deposited with — and all the other electronic methods are unsuitable — then the sites can send a paper cheque. This is a last resort, and a slow way of getting your funds out. The good news is that you will be able to deposit your cheque at any major bank in Canada.
Things to look for before depositing at a poker site
Real money poker is available in many forms online. They range from sweepstakes models, to province-licensed gambling portals, to offshore sites, and even free-to-play apps with the ability to buy play-money chips.
Before you make any deposit, it pays to make sure you are playing on a legitimate site. Some simple checks will make sure your money is safe, and that you will have no problems withdrawing your poker profits in the future.
Licensing is a significant factor. Many poker sites that claim to be licensed are simply running their servers in Central America or the Caribbean. There is little oversight for ‘offshore’ operators, and if they close down, taking your balance with them, there is no regulatory body to complain to. The European licensing bodies do have more oversight and control. Note that this is not a fail-safe. The example of Full Tilt Poker, which closed in 2011, taking bankrolls with it, is a good example of the risks involved.
You should also check for regular auditing of the random number generator (RNG) software that controls the deal for online poker sites by third parties. A robust responsible gambling policy, that includes self-exclusion and deposit limit tools, is also required.
Finally, look out for red flags online by searching for payment delays, predatory bonus terms (voiding bonuses for minor reasons) and any issues with funds being frozen.
Staying safe at online poker sites is important. By only keeping the money you need to play the next few sessions online, you will reduce your risk should the worst happen.
Depositing with the best poker bonus
To take advantage of the many bonuses and promotions at online poker sites, your deposit method is important. It can pay to keep part of your bankroll where it can be quickly deployed to different sites. This will let you take advantage of different bonus offers as soon as they appear.
You can get a lot of the benefits of a bigger payment by making a minimum poker deposit at some online poker rooms. While a 100% match is common, some sites give away poker tournament entries, sit and go lottery tokens, and free spins for slots for a deposit as low as $20.
Here are some of the main poker bonuses to look out for before you deposit:
- Matched welcome bonuses: Most sites give you an incentive to deposit more by matching your funds with bonus credits. You will need to ‘clear’ your bonus, moving it in increments into your cash account, before it can be withdrawn.
- Freeroll entries: Depositing players get tickets to tournaments with real money prize pools, where you can expect wild play and fast blinds. Other giveaways include tokens for cash games and novel types of poker (like the new sit and go lottery tournaments).
- Reload bonuses: If you hit a rough patch, and need to replenish your account, then look out for reload bonuses. These work like deposit bonuses for existing players, giving you a match to the amount paid in.
- Loyalty reward schemes: Poker rooms reward players based on the volume and value of their play. Point collection schemes are frequently tiered, giving you bigger benefits as you move through the levels.
- Poker promotions: The best sites are coming up with new promotions all the time. They can include bad beat jackpots, satellite qualifier tournaments, missions, leader board contests, and seasonal/one-off deals.
- Crossover promotions: Many poker rooms are part of wider gambling portals. They offer casino games, live dealer casinos, and sports betting options. Look out for promotions including free bets and free chips that give you a shot at growing your poker bankroll by playing alternative games.
Wrapping up: banking methods at Canadian poker sites
Canadian players can easily get money into and out of online poker sites, despite the major banks not being gambling-friendly. The method you choose will depend on the individual poker site, your preferences when it comes to sharing card information online, and the amount of money you want to pay in. You can choose from bank transfers, Interac, credit cards, electronic wallets, or prepaid cards.
It can pay to make sure you have a secure withdrawal method available before you play. Poker is a game of skill, and with some good game selection, you might be requesting a withdrawal before long. Most Canadian poker sites will ask you to withdraw using the same banking method you made your deposit with.
Make sure you are maximizing your poker bonuses each time you deposit. There are matched welcome offers, plus extras that are often available even for a minimum deposit. Loyalty rewards are also worth checking out — they make a big difference to your bankroll over the long term.
Poker site banking methods FAQ
Poker is not regulated, with access to international sites in a legal grey area that means there are no protections for Canadian players. The laws that relate to online poker come from statutes that pre-date the internet. They focus on a ‘gambling house’ and make it illegal to run one in Canada.
Sweepstakes poker sites and provincial gambling portals are legal options.
If your credit card or bank transfer payment gets declined by your bank, your money is safe. No cash will leave your account — the payment simply does not happen. If you want to fund your poker account, you will need to find an alternative deposit method. Options include Interac or prepaid cards. Check with the staff of your poker room, who will know which methods are working right now.
No — gambling winnings in Canada are tax free. The only exception to this is for professional players. If poker becomes your main source of income, then your winnings are taxed.
This will depend on the withdrawal method you choose, the site, and whether you have previously gone through KYC checks. ID documents are frequently requested by sites the first time you make a withdrawal.
Your request will take from 24 hours to five days to process. Legacy systems like bank wires take the longest, while electronic wallet withdrawals are much faster.
All sites will warn you that making a withdrawal will cause any outstanding bonuses to be cancelled. This gives you an incentive not to withdraw, which the online poker sites prefer. If you want to take advantage of new bonus offers, keep part of your bankroll separate. You can then use this to maximize your benefits from promotions on whatever site they appear on.